03/23/10 — Mt. Olive Pickle Co. donates $50,000 to library

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Mt. Olive Pickle Co. donates $50,000 to library

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 23, 2010 1:46 PM

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The Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Foundation has made a $50,000 donation to the Steele Memorial Library project. From left are library steering committee Chairman Lynn Williams, Wayne Library Director Jane Rustin, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. President Bill Bryan and county library board of trustees member Laura Strickland.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A fundraising campaign for a new Steele Memorial Library got a $50,000 boost Friday from the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Foundation.

An initial $10,000 contribution was made last week. The remaining pledge will be paid in two $20,000 installments over the next two years.

It is the second donation from the foundation -- it gave $5,000 shortly after the project got started last fall.

That $5,000, along with another $5,000 from the Southern Bank Foundation and $2,500 from the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, allowed the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee to hire a consultant, Phil Barton of Salisbury.

Barton has completed his preliminary plans, which will be reviewed by the steering committee March 29.

While they happily say the big donation is appreciated and represents a major leap for the project, library supporters noted that smaller amounts are just as important to their efforts to raise $350,000 of what is expected to be a $3.5 million to $4 million project. The new library is included in the county's five-year capital plan for fiscal year 2010-11.

Construction could start as early as fiscal year 2011-12. Currently, Wayne County is waiting on requests for qualifications it has sent out for architects who might be interested in the project. Identifying architectural and engineering firms could begin this spring.

"This is a very significant contribution and it means that I can see the end in sight," Wayne Count Library Director Jane Rustin said. "There is some fundraising to be done, but this is such a significant event in the whole campaign. I am so excited about it. It is extremely generous, but you know that when you think of the company, that is the way they are. They support the community. They were very involved when we made the move into the building that we are in now so they are just continuing that tradition.

"They have helped all along. They have sponsored books and worthy projects historically, so I just think this is another example of their commitment the library. This is a huge, huge boost. It is monumental because all of the gifts we get in smaller amounts are just as much appreciated as this one is."

Ms. Rustin said she expects the donation to spur other companies to step up to the plate.

"I do think there is that sense of a good investment. I think the company is saying this is worthy of a considerable sum of money and that heartens all of us. It underlines the importance of the library to the community here especially. It is just huge confirmation of what the project is all about."

Ms. Rustin noted that the old Belk's department store bought last year by the county from Mount Olive College is well suited for adaptation to a library.

The new 23,000-square-foot facility will replace the cramped 2,500-square-foot facility that is currently housed in a former bank building

Committee members have visited libraries in Cary, Mebane and Burlington and last September help public meetings to gather input on the library plans.

"The library is a wonderful well-used resource for the community," said Mt. Olive Pickle Co. President Bill Bryan. "We have given smaller donations to the library in the past to expand the collection here in Mount Olive. We have had great feedback from those gifts.

"Clearly with the ability to move into a much larger facility the library will be able to offer an expanded collection as well as the number of activities they are not able to offer to the community currently. It is really a great project that adds to the quality of life in the community and I think makes us more attractive as a community to others who may consider relocating here."

Bryan said that the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Foundation, created in 1994, is "just another vehicle" that the company has established to be able to provide support for various activities in the community into the future.

Steering Committee Chairman Lynn Williams called the donation "amazing and humbling" and clearly demonstrates that much importance is placed on the library.

"We are planning to do some things with the building during the Pickle Festival (April 23-24) so people can walk in and see the ideas and kind of where things are, where things will be within the building as the library," said Ms. Williams, who is community relations director for the pickle company.

Those plans include holding the Friends of the Library book sale in the building.